Corporations and the Golden Lotus World

In recent conversations, I’ve spotted a trend that makes me uncomfortable: a knee-jerk suspicion of corporate motives and (in some cases) outright dismissal of the value of corporate products just because they’re products of corporations.

No doubt there are corporations that have acted in bad faith, and done a lot of damage in the process. (The tobacco industry is the foremost example, but there are others.) But if you look around, you’ll also notice many things that have made your life better that were made by corporations. Also, lots of people you know — and many more you don’t know — make their living from corporations. The majority of these people have good intentions. (I don’t think many go to work in the morning thinking about how they’re going to screw the world today.)

For better or worse, corporations are an important part of our lives. They’re a key social construct; the best way we’ve found to organize ourselves to produce goods and services at scale. I find the impulse to dismiss them misguided. It reminds me of a Buddhist aphorism quoted by Joseph Campbell in his book Myths to Live By:

This very world, with all its imperfection, is the Golden Lotus World of perfection.

You gain nothing from rejecting the world. Instead, you must strive to see it clearly for what it is so that you can act more skillfully within it. Corporations have a huge impact on the world, and will likely continue doing so in the foreseeable future. Instead of dismissing them and their products, we should strive to help the people in them to become more conscious of the importance of their role in (and responsibilities towards) society. (I’m happy to note signs in this direction.)